Spencer Jones is already feeling the excitement of the Army-Navy rivalry, and soon, he’ll be right in the middle of it.
The Vandegrift linebacker put pen to paper on Wednesday during the early signing period, committing to play football for the Black Knights. Fellow Vandegrift teammate Reese Watson also signed his NLI to play football at Incarnate Word.
“This shows all the hard work I’ve put in since starting football in third grade,” Jones said. “I just felt a lot of love with the coaches. They’re very personable. I love everything about it and what they’re doing.”
Jones is the fourth Vandegrift player to commit to Army football since 2014.
He said it’s cool to know some guys on the team, but that didn’t really have an effect on what school he was going to choose, Army was his pick from the very beginning.
Jones was the District 13-6A Defensive MVP as the Vipers made it three rounds deep for the first time since moving up to Class 6A. With 122 tackles, one interception and one sack, the senior was the anchor of the best defense in Vandegrift history.
“The brotherhood and the love we had for each other stood out,” Jones said. We were a family and it showed. We finally won an undisputed district championship.”
Watson was a dual-threat player for the Vipers this season, leading the secondary with five interceptions and finishing fifth with 70 tackles with one sack. He also had 10 receptions for 175 yards and two touchdowns.
“I just felt safe at Incarnate Word and it felt like a home and I can’t wait to be there,” Watson said. “It’s a great feeling seeing all the hard work from Pop Warner through high school pay off. I had a lot of support knowing I could play (at the next level).”
Vandegrift head coach Drew Sanders said it was guys like Jones and Watson that helped the Vipers reach previously untapped milestones this season.
“They both exemplify what we want our young men to be like,” Sanders said. “They act well in the classroom, they take their academics seriously and they treat the coaches with respect.”
The two Vandegrift football players were the only Leander ISD athletes to sign during the early signing period on Wednesday. It’s the second year players could sign early instead of waiting until the February signing period.
Jones said there was no reason to wait to sign to the school he knew he wanted to go from the start, while Watson echoed that sentiment and added he wanted to reaffirm his commitment to the Cardinals.
Sanders said he prefers having the early signing period in February because it allows for FCS or Division II guys that are waiting to see what happens the opportunity to get offers and sign even more players.
“It lets that filter happen,” Sanders said.
Vandegrift opened in 2009 and played its first football season in 2010. But the wall in the athletic hall where the Vipers normally hold signing day ceremonies is already filling up with athletes playing at the next level.
“I go on record all the time saying it’s the best school in Texas,” Sanders said. “We have wonderful kids and families that push them and want to help them succeed. It’s a great winning culture and it’s really exciting.”